How Do You Manage Grief?

How Do You Manage Grief?

I had a call this morning from an old neighbour of my parents. Elaine and her husband Fred lived next door to my family from the time I was a teenager and we were constantly in and out of each other’s homes. They were there for our marriage and when visiting my old home we always went across to see them. They gave our sons their first cricket bats and the whole family were very fond of them.

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Sadly Ted died suddenly nine years ago but Elaine remained in their home because that was where she felt closest to Fred. My parents have since gone and so visits have become the occasional phone call and Christmas card but today Elaine felt compelled to call me.

She said yesterday was her 90th birthday and she was suddenly overwhelmed by grief for the loss of her husband of 55 years. She wanted to talk to someone who had known and loved him.

Friends have told her she should be over it by now but she said how can you forget the loss of someone who was such part of your life.

It reminded me of a book I was given when I was grieving which listed the emotions one should expect to experience and how by certain amounts of time having passed you should “have moved on”. It was written by a well known psychologist but I felt the author had never actually experienced grief and ended up by pitching it into the rubbish bin.

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Everyone is different and experiences grief and shows grief in a multitude of different ways; it is impossible to generalise. Some people get relief by shouting and screaming and throwing things while others may appear to getting on with their lives while internally bleeding. Both are valid.

Some need to talk it out while others just need the quiet and space to fully realise their loss. Some can no longer stay in the home they shared amid the constant reminders of what was, while others relish the familiarity and the sense of their loved one being nearby. Some have done their grieving over a long period of illness and need to move on to a new phase of life and are perhaps more open to finding love again. Others cannot imagine life with another partner and prefer their memories. They feel being alone is preferable to settling for what they perceive as second best.

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No one should ever live their lives according to “what the neighbours think” or friends or even family. Do what that small voice deep inside you tells you is right for your circumstances and you.

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